Blue Light Contemporary Showcase Aims Spotlight on Student, Graduate Photography Work

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The engaging and, at times, provocative images of nearly 20 Island University student photographers will go on virtual display Sept. 1 and run through Oct. 31 as part of the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Photography Exhibition Showcase, a component within a new photography initiative called Blue Light Contemporary.

Created by Jennifer Garza-Cuen, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Assistant Professor of Art, Blue Light Contemporary consists of the student showcase, which features works from beginning, advanced, Bachelor of Fine Art and Master of Fine Art level students; a collection of photographic prints housed in the Department of Art + Design’s photography area; and a speaker series. Dr. Nathaniel Stein, Associate Curator of Photography at the Cincinnati Art Museum, serves as Curatorial Advisor. 

Garza-Cuen said she began laying the groundwork for Blue Light Contemporary shortly after arriving at the Island University several years ago. 

“The ultimate purpose – as I saw it – was to broaden the scope and dialogue around photography to which our students are exposed and to introduce them to a wide variety of emerging and established contemporary photographers in a more intimate, visceral way,” Garza-Cuen said.

Several of the projects feature content intended for a mature audience; accordingly, a note with the advisory “Viewer discretion advised” is featured on the BLC home page.

“The Blue Light Exhibition Showcase was created in our time of COVID-19 as a way of continuing and expanding the tradition of celebrating remarkable student work,” Garza-Cuen said. “There are a variety of styles and approaches represented, and I am delighted at the originality and dedication our students’ work displays in this inaugural exhibition showcase.”

Showcase contributor Elizabeth “Izzy” Sneed ’18 said she began with the color pink for her project, “Pretty (All I’ve Learned).” The project, which includes several intimate images and incorporates frank language in accompanying text, received mostly positive feedback from her peers when it was first completed in 2018, the former Island Waves photographer and cartoonist said.

“I brainstormed a list of things that reminded me of going through puberty and the color pink,” Sneed, who earned a Bachelor of Art in Studio Art in December 2018, said. “I distinctly remember one of the male students in class saying he couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable when viewing some of the images – in particular, the more intimate ones – and Professor Garza-Cuen said, ‘Good! You’re supposed to!’”

For her project “Should Be Happy on Christmas,” graphic design major Danielle Galindo chose to create a photo narrative collection of eight images that offer a decidedly darker view of the holidays. 

“Through a freak drowning accident, the story is told from the perspective of a dead girl who haunts and preys on the living around Christmas time as her ‘holiday tradition,’” Galindo said.  

Galindo said the BLC Showcase is a remarkable opportunity for emerging creatives to display their work.

“Most of us have no idea how to put ourselves out there in a world where everyone is trying to be noticed,” Galindo said. “It’s showcases like this one that make space for us to show ourselves.”

Caleigh Knipling is a senior majoring in graphic design. Her project on candy bars is featured in the Typologies section of the showcase.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity because I feel that it is a great way to not only get our names out there in the ‘real’ world but also network with other creatives,” Knipling said. “Something I have personally struggled with is developing a style and purpose, but I think once you find those two things, you are golden. Photography is art, and it will always be subjective.”